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Tonto National Forest Wildfire Grows Despite Rains

Arizona wild fire 2021

Photo provided by Inciweb

Cave Creek AZ – Despite rains and 146 personnel on scene, the Tonto National Forest Middle Fire continues to spread. Today, thirteen days after its start on June 29, 2021, the wildfire incident management team is reporting 2,784 acres burned, with zero containment.

Highlights: Yesterday, precipitation fell over the Middle Fire reducing fire activity in some areas of the fire. Despite receiving a quarter to a half inch of rain, the fire grew over 350 acres to the north through grass and light brush over Long Mesa.

Operations: Firefighters continue to scout for viable roads and access points into the Middle Fire. Rugged terrain and impassable roads are preventing direct access in and out of the fire area. Firefighters are working to protect critical infrastructure in the area, including powerlines managed by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA). Even though the fire is approaching the powerlines, vegetation treatments implemented by WAPA are expected to reduce fire behavior underneath the lines. Little activity was observed on the western and eastern sides of the fire, with the most intense heat concentrated on the northern end.

Weather: Isolated showers and thunderstorms are expected again today as high pressure keeps an easterly flow over the area. The most favored times for storms to develop will be after 3 p.m. Brief, heavy rain and gusty, erratic winds are possible with any storm. Temperatures will be slightly cooler today but still hot with highs in the low 100s. Light terrain-driven winds in the morning will move out of the west in the afternoon with speeds of 10-15 mph and gusts up to 20 mph. Monsoonal moisture is expected to increase early in the week with scattered, afternoon thunderstorms expected for much of next week. Some storms could produce heavy rain and flash flooding.

Safety: The health and safety of firefighters and the public is the first priority. The public is strongly urged to stay clear of the fire area. The Tonto National Forest has issued a temporary road and area closure for the Middle Fire. The signed closure order and map are available on the Tonto National Forest website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/tonto/alerts-notices(link is external).

Restrictions: The Tonto National Forest remains in Stage 2 Fire Restrictions until September 30, 2021, or until rescinded. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in place to protect the public and firefighters, as well as National Forest System lands and resources, during a period of very high to extreme wildlife danger. The Stage 2 Fire Restrictions order, along with accompanying map, are available on the Tonto National Forest website(link is external). A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in place over the area, which includes unmanned aircraft, or drones. Unauthorized use of drones in a wildfire area endangers the lives of pilots and firefighters. Never fly an unmanned aircraft over or near a wildfire. See www.nifc.gov/drones(link is external) for additional information on the dangers drones pose to wildland firefighting aircraft and personnel on the ground.

Smoke: Smoke from the Middle Fire, along with several other fires burning in central Arizona, may be visible from communities in the surrounding area. An interactive smoke map at https://fire.airnow.gov/(link is external) allows you to zoom into your location to see the latest smoke information. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures.

Middle Fire details
Acres: 2,784 acres
Start Date: June 29, 2021
Cause: Lightning
Containment: 0%
Total personnel: 146
Location: 28 miles northeast of Cave Creek, AZ
Fuels: Brush, grass, and juniper

Middle Fire Public Information
Email: 2021.middle@firenet.gov(link sends e-mail)
Phone: (602) 428-5397; Office Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
InciWeb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7622/(link is external)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TontoNationalForest(link is external)
Twitter: @TontoForest(link is external)


  1. SFD Rocks says:

    Firefighter shortages matter and it’s not going to get better. The cancel culture that you allow to be promoted by the people elected implicates fire fighting as white and privileged like the police. To be a good community citizen means little to our local governments. Thank you, SFD firefighters.

  2. Ted says:

    Sedona is failing its role of protecting the environment.

  3. Karen McCoy says:

    A fire in Oregon has burned over 3000 acres, bigger than NYC the news said. Be careful out there in Sedona.

  4. Kelley says:

    Check this out from the U.S. Forest Service-Tonto National Forest (you can use the link in story like I did and share important information)

    July 23 at 11:11 AM


    A low pressure system will bring a few rounds of heavy showers and thunderstorms through Saturday night. The strongest storms will be capable of producing high rain rates and flash flooding of washes, small streams, and poor drainage areas. Flash flooding may also lead to river rises. Past and recent burn scars will be especially prone to flash flooding and debris flow. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action. Visit the National Weather Service website for more information: https://forecast.weather.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=AZZ543&warncounty=AZC013&firewxzone=AZZ132&local_place1=Phoenix%20AZ&product1=Flash+Flood+Watch&lat=33.4483&lon=-112.0758#.YPrZyI5KhaQ

    Lynda Beauchamp
    With all this rain, there is still NO water in Pine Creek.

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